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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


Recorded 1951 - 1957
SONY 5086702

Mario Bauza, Frank Davila, Ed Medina, Bobby Woodlin, trumpet; Eddie Bert, Vern Friley, Fred Vito, trombone; Lenny Hambro, Gene Johnson, Leslie Johnakins, Jose Madera, Freddie Skerritt, saxophones; Rene Hernandez, piano; Bobby Rodriguez, Jose Mangual, bongos; Luis Miranda, conga; Machito, maracas; Ubaldo Nieto, timbales; Mario Bauza, musical director.
Vocals, Machito, The Skylarks, Graciela, Los Hermanos Rgual
Track 9 featuring Mitch Miller - Oboe.

1. Holiday Mambo
2. Donde Estebas Tu
3. Carambola
4. Ay Que Mate
5. Mambo A La Savoy
6. Que Me Falta
7. Amalia Las Invita
8. Bongo Fiesta
9. Oboe Mambo
10. Contigo En La Distancia
11. Freezelandia
12. Hay Que Recordar
13. Sambia
14. Bee-Ree-Bee-Kym-Bee
15. Si Si No No
16. Mambo Inn
17. Negro Nanamboro
18. Adios
19. Bella Mora
20. Mambo Mucho Mambo

The Machito Afro Cuban Orchestra was probably one of the most significant early influences on Latin Jazz. Dizzy Gillespie was certainly very aware of the music of this band and always admitted to being an admirer of the work of Mario Bauza ( the band's musical director ). On listening to these recordings one can clearly hear much of the style which Gillespie adapted for his own big band. Apparently he was a regular " sitter - in " with this type of orchestra when he was in New York and subsequently became quite an accomplished percussionist in his own right. Gillespie, along with Charlie Parker, also recorded with Machito but their collaborations do not appear on this compilation.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of these recordings is the immense swing and openness of feel generated by this ensemble. Other contemporary Latin organisations seem much more restricted by the rhythmic patterns inherent in this type of music. Much of this, of course, is due to the ground breaking arranging techniques employed by Mario Bauza. His use of complex unison passages in the brass is a most exciting device and was certainly influential on Gillespie's big band and was also reflected in some of the orchestrations used by Duke Ellington in his attempts to cash in on the Mambo craze from around this time.

Within the strictures of the idiom there is great variety contained in the numbers presented here. There are mambo type pieces as well as the bolero ( "Contigo En La Distancia") and more gentle numbers in a ballad style. According to the liner notes "Mambo Inn" became the national anthem of mambo music. "Oboe Mambo " features Mitch Miller on the instrument named in the title - his career must have been of great divergence at this time as he was the oboe player and musical director for the string ensemble which played and recorded with Charlie Parker during this era.
"Holiday Mambo " is in fact based on "Hava Nagila" and " Mambo A La Savoy " is a variation on " Stomping At The Savoy". The vocals on most selections are never less than interesting and some are quite humorous in the manner of their delivery. There are improvised solos on many of these pieces, but it is the ensemble work that is the significant feature of these recordings. This disc is great fun !

Dick Stafford


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